More flashy guts and gore, southern style, from shrink-turned-novelist-and-screenwriter Willocks, whose debut thriller, Green River Rising (1994), garnered high praise. An embattled doctor-hero again serves as the main catalyst to action. Here, it's Cicero Grimes, awakened from a weeks-long funk in his rubbish-strewn New Orleans firehouse-home by a lawyer with a letter, naming Grimes as the beneficiary of the man he himself had stabbed and left for dead in a burning house. The man, Clarence Jefferson, a mountain of muscle and malice, had in his sinister career as a crooked vice-squad captain amassed a hoard of unsavory secrets regarding everyone of influence in Louisiana, secrets that he bequeathed to Grimes in order to make them public, with certain strings attached. Those strings involve the wife of an old-family tycoon, who faked her husband's death, then kept him drugged and caged for 13 years as her revenge for his having taken away from her her newborn baby girl--the product of an affair with a black musician she truly loved. The strings also involve the girl herself, now 19 and a jazz singer, and Grimes's incorruptible ex-Marine father, who leads the charge to Jefferson's hidden stash as if on a moral crusade. But the caged husband gets loose, and wastes no time going after his wife and the evidence that will put him away for good. The extensive ensuing bloodbath, complete with well-trained Cuban mercenaries and a testicle-eating attack dog (with a heart of gold), helicopter stunts and exploding mansions, love and revelation, is executed with a gemcutter's precision. The dead have a lot of trouble staying dead here, and the living spend an inordinate amount of time exploring fine points of moral philosophy, but for all that this is an utterly captivating tale.